Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says her Government will set up a new $2000 award for the best student in vocational courses in each state secondary school.

Ardern made the announcement after visiting a house build site overlooking Pukekohe's gardens and talking to apprentices who are being assessed by BCITO.

She said more needed to be done to encourage young people to consider a career in the trades, given the huge demand forecast.

"Under a Labour government the top pupil at each public high school in vocational subjects every year will receive a $2000 Prime Minister's Vocational Excellence Award. That's 350 pupils every year."

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Ardern said she wanted to see more schools offering vocational courses.

Glen Duncan, group manager of BCITO, said their building and construction training organisation offers about 35 qualifications, with about 11,200 apprentices currently enrolled.

Those students are employed by builders and trade companies and BCITO assesses and helps with their skill development.

"We need 2000 or 3000 more to meet forecast demand. We need to convince more mums and dads that the trades are a good career option. Not just working but also owning their own businesses."

Today's announcement comes after last night's Newshub leaders debate, when National leader Bill English questioned how Labour would meet its pledge to build thousands of new homes while cutting immigration.